Influence of visual inputs on quasi-static standing postural steadiness in individuals with spinal cord injury

Jean-François Lemay, Dany Gagnon, Cyril Duclos, Murielle Grangeon, Cindy Gauthier, Sylvie Nadeau
Gait & Posture 2013, 38 (2): 357-60
Postural steadiness while standing is impaired in individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI) and could be potentially associated with increased reliance on visual inputs. The purpose of this study was to compare individuals with SCI and able-bodied participants on their use of visual inputs to maintain standing postural steadiness. Another aim was to quantify the association between visual contribution to achieve postural steadiness and a clinical balance scale. Individuals with SCI (n = 15) and able-bodied controls (n = 14) performed quasi-static stance, with eyes open or closed, on force plates for two 45 s trials. Measurements of the centre of pressure (COP) included the mean value of the root mean square (RMS), mean COP velocity (MV) and COP sway area (SA). Individuals with SCI were also evaluated with the Mini-Balance Evaluation Systems Test (Mini BESTest), a clinical outcome measure of postural steadiness. Individuals with SCI were significantly less stable than able-bodied controls in both conditions. The Romberg ratios (eyes open/eyes closed) for COP MV and SA were significantly higher for individuals with SCI, indicating a higher contribution of visual inputs for postural steadiness in that population. Romberg ratios for RMS and SA were significantly associated with the Mini-BESTest. This study highlights the contribution of visual inputs in individuals with SCI when maintaining quasi-static standing posture.

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